I currently work in the offshore oil and gas industry as an offshore surveyor and I have an undergraduate degree in survey and mapping. I enjoy my job and it is well paid but I want to learn more of GIS that the little I studied at university.

I have been accepted on to a MSc GIS course (free in my country via distance learning). The course seems to be ESRI software only and maybe not cutting edge. I am looking for advice on either taking the course or through self study concentrating on python, databases (PostgreSQL), QGIS and visualization/design.

My end goal would to have the skills and knowledge to change jobs in the future if I decide the sea life is no longer for me.

I would be very interested to hear from everyone who is working within the GIS industry. Thanks for your input.

closed as primarily opinion-based by PolyGeo, whuber May 28 '14 at 22:05

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    You might want to try out the academia stack exchange as well for advice. Generally, I think there are a lot of resources to learn GIS on your own and you may want to see if you can get a different degree to diversify your qualifications. However, since cost isn't a factor, I don't see why not. – GISKid May 28 '14 at 20:22
  • If it's "free" (meaning tuition, fees, etc.) then how could you not? Are you asking to see if GIS is your thing? GIS skills are certainly portable. I would only add that you take relevant Computer Science classes on top of your GIS degree - courses like Python programming whether or not you use ESRI products in GIS. And Database structure/design to learn best practices. – user23715 May 28 '14 at 23:47

Do you want to learn about GIS or about specific softwares/languages? What would you say your level of fundamental GIS knowledge is?

ESRI software is a tool, one of many. It can be used to teach GIS, just as QGIS or many others could. The GIS certficate program I completed used ESRI software for any number of reasons. However actual instruction and education was primarily aimed at GIS, not ESRI - meaning it covers concepts like Intersect and not just tools like the specific Intersect tool in ESRI software. Another example would be there are many syntaxes and functions available for SQL that differ from database to database. My course used Access to explain the concepts, but pointed out that things did vary and you can do some things with one you may not be able to do with another.

It's possible that the course you are looking at is 'software training' and not an 'education'. But it's also possible the course just uses that software for illustration or hands-on experience with the concepts taught. If you're knowledgable and comfortable with fundamental GIS skills and abilities, then self-directed study for specific areas of interest (ie Python, or just PostgreSQL, or QGIS software) may be the best approach. Otherwise a more general GIS education may be helpful. Your undergrad degree surely covered some of that, but maybe not all of it.

Without more info on the program it's hard to make any specific suggestion, but as GISKid said, if it's free you don't have a lot to lose and you should get something out of it.

Also, note the Related question links on the right - there are many similar and related questions here already you may want to review.

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